Malawi secured a vital away win in their Group B Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, defeating South Sudan 1-0 at El Hilal Stadium on Wednesday afternoon to remain in contention for a place at next year’s tournament in Cameroon.
Before the win, Malawi were still third with four points and it was then compulsory for Meck Mwase’s men to pick maximum points against their opponents and they perfectly executed their plan with a second half deflection goal from a Gerald Phiri Jnr’s corner kick.
After a poor first half, a goal finally came as the hosts’ defence failed to clear Phiri Jnr’s corner to hand Mwase his first competitive away win in as many attempts as possible.
This was Malawi’s first away win in 13 years.
In Wednesday’s match, Mwase deployed an all attacking formation, handing Khuda Muyaba his first start alongside Gabadinho Mhango and Richard Mbulu upfront whilst Limbikani Mzava captained the side for the first time in three years as he partnered Charles Petro, Precious Sambani and Stainley Sanudi in defence.
Mwase then trusted Peter Banda, John Banda and Phiri Jnr in the middle of the park.
As usual, the two teams struggled for goals in the entire opening minutes but it was Malawi with some clinical chances which the front three failed to convert.
Malawi wasted another opportunity with some few minutes to play in the first half when Phiri Jnr combined well with Banda only to see the latter’s cross cleared before reaching Mhango who was the main target in the six-yard box.
In the second half, it only took three minutes for the visitors to find the back of the net.
A corner kick from Phiri Jnr caught South Sudan’s defence napping in the line of duty before it was deflected into the net to send Mwase’ led technical panel into a massive celebration.
With the lead, Mwase brought in Francisco Madinga and Rafiq Namwera to try to defend it.
The Flames, with their never ending history of conceding in the dying minutes of every match, held on to claim an important win which has kept their dreams of making it to Cameroon next year alive.
With Burkina Faso frustrating Uganda with a goalless draw, Malawi will seal the qualification if they beat the Cranes at Kamuzu Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Burkina Faso leads the group with nine points, seconded by Uganda with eight points and Malawi with seven points.
A win will take the Flames to ten points and automatically seal a place at the next year’s continental competition.